Divergent Prices in Global Stainless Steel Markets
Stainless steel flat products ex-mill prices decreased again, this month, in most of the countries surveyed by MEPS. Further reductions are likely, in Western nations, in the near term. Market participants in Europe and North America predict that July/August is likely to represent the bottom of the current price curve.
Transaction values fell sharply, this month, in the United States, under the influence of reduced raw material costs. While nickel values have stabilised, somewhat, in recent weeks, the decrease in the European ferrochrome contract price for the third quarter will affect stainless steel selling figures in the coming months. The US mills’ alloy surcharges for July, represent a further, significant cut, month-on-month. MEPS’ effective figure for grade 304, cold rolled coil, for June, is already over 5 percent lower than the recent peak value, recorded in April. However, it should be noted that this month’s price is more than 20 percent higher than that published one year ago.
Alloy surcharges continue to slide, in Europe. The recent weakness in the LME nickel cost had a negative effect on the calculations for June and July. The reduced ferrochrome contract figure is likely to result in more cuts for August. Furthermore, basis prices began to weaken, this month, and market players foresee additional discounts, in the short term. MEPS’ published transaction value for type 304, cold rolled coil, in Germany, for June, is more than 9 percent below the recent high figure, from April, but remains nearly 20 percent higher than the price recorded in June 2016.
Chinese price formulations react much more quickly to day-to-day fluctuations in raw material values, than those used in most other nations. Consequently, selling figures, in China, have risen, slightly, in recent weeks, in response to upturns in spot prices for both nickel and ferrochrome. Nevertheless, our tabled numbers, for grade 304, cold rolled coil, in June, are more than 23 percent down on the peak figure, published in December 2016, but 2 percent higher than the price reported twelve months ago.